Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rock Canyon Hike and Mountain Sheep

Slipped out of work at 3:30 and hiked up Rock Canyon ahead of the pending snow storm.

I hiked up to check out The Appendage - a rock outcrop shortly after the gate that I've finally figured out how to get to.

As I went up the hill I heard scuffling in the brush behind me and turned around to see (there were other climbers just downhill and I thought maybe they were coming to see what I was up to) and there was a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (I guess - not a zoologist) about 40' away.

I tried to get my camera out and take pics, but he slipped into the trees and skirted me along the trail. The pics in the brush sucked, but this one pic as he went back on the trail came out okay.

Look for the sheep butt where the trail goes behind the tree

I climbed up the gully on the North side of The Appendage which was fairly simple 3rd class and stood at the top of the anchors for the unnamed 5.easy route on the West Face. From there I had a good view of the sheep and a couple of his friends.

Wish I had my XTI with me - it has much nicer glass and takes much better pics. I think I'll go back up there and stake it out sometime with a telephoto.

Stay tuned for adventures on The Appendage depending on weather.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nov. 24 - Top Rope Solo Draper Red Rock

(NOTE: I've started posting a new blog just for rope solo - visit if you like)

Ran up at 4:30 in the waning daylight and boogied up the trail to try and squeeze out a quick climb.

I decided I wanted to try "Liken Ze' Planus" and went up the stairs on the West of The Red Rock. I scrambled down to the anchors, which serve a handful of routes on that section of the North Face, and set up two quickdraws and a backup sling from an anchor I think is meant to protect you while setting up the belay.

Me ready to Rappel:

Me at the bottom, set up for Solo Toproping:

I got up about 12' or so and had some trouble finding a place for my hands and feet that felt safe enough for the slack I had, so I bailed, and rappelled to the bottom from my Eddy - Belay Device by Edelrid (interesting action - I normally use a Petzl Reverso).

I decided to shift to the left and try "Always Leave a Generous Root Tip" - another 5.6.

It was a little more fun, and I had a cool moment when I did a mantle/heel-hook move to clear a ledge about 3/4 up - since my body moved about 5' on that one move I had a good 5' of slack, plus the drag required to autolock the Eddy, plus the rope stretch (Sterling 9.8MM). Adds up to a remotely possible DECK!


I made it all the way past the anchors to the little stance there and clipped in a daisy and rested. Check out the forehead action:

And looking back down at the anchors and beyond - past my knee into oblivion and darkness:

In the darkness I bagged the rope and the draws and sling, scrambled back up to my pack, changed my shoes and packed, then while phoning the "I'm still alive" call into DW hiked down the Bonneville Shoreline Trail to the car lot.

Forgot that this trail is so popular and allows horses. Horse poop everywhere.

Till next adventure...


Didn't realize that so many would want to know tech details about this rigging. I don't want to be responsible for anyone dieing while trying this who really shouldn't be, but I will offer a few tech tips...

1) you need a really good auto-locking belay device (in lieu of using a complicated knot system, which is totally doable on the cheap)


Edilrid Eddy Autolocking Belay Device

Petzl Grigri Autolocking Belay Device

I prefer the Eddy, but many use the Grigri as well. The Eddy feeds "backwards" from the grigri, so keep that in mind, since unless you use some counterweighted bottom anchor system, you will have to manually feed the rope as you climb.

Some people report using the Trango Cinch Autolocking Belay Device, but Trango really says "Don't" and I will honor that and pass it along to you.

More updates later...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nov. 20 Climbing with the boys.

While DW and DD took a nap, I took the boys out to the Traverse Wall for some climbing action to take advantage of the 50 degree day.

Bren wanted to toprope, so I found a suitable set of trees to make an anchor near the edge of what looked like about 5.6 terrain - though only 12' or so high.

Dallin took the Olympus Stylus 770SW (it's a great camera for outdoor adventure - shockproof, waterproof to about 20', freezeproof to zero, etc. etc. - the one I use for all my adventuring - Rainier, Baker, etc.) and ran around getting Brennan to pose for him - selected highlights include:

Brennan went up about 6' (pics taken by Dallin) but was having trouble with his feet:

Dallin didn't have a happy experience climbing the day before, and wanted to come along only for the hike, but after Brennan got as high as he could, we were trying to coach him to use his feet better, and Dallin said "I can do it, watch" and we got him on the ropes:

Dallin made it to 8', so he was stoked about beating his brother. I took a few pics of him as best I could while belaying:

After the excitement they were pretty tired of climbing so I took down the toprope and we hiked a bit further along the lower of the two trails to some more walls. We scrambled up to the top, then weaved through the trees till we met the other trail, and headed back. Brennan was nervous and tired, but when they saw the "teepee" of branches along the top trail they recognized it and felt much safer.

Good skills were learned that day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Swan Mountain Bolted Toprope Solo

(NOTE: I've started posting a new blog just for rope solo - visit if you like)

(Note: the bolts on this route have since become unusable - do not duplicate unless you can set your own toprope on gear - June 2009)

Reading on Mountain Project for Keystone Area in Colorado, I came across the Swan Mountain Road Bouldering Area. Just down the trail another 10 minutes or so (whole thing took me about 14 minutes this morning) is a Top Rope Crag - about 30' max give or take, with two listed 5.6 Routes. Perfect.

Angie has a pic on her blog showing the view across the lake from the top of the routes.

At the top of the East 5.6 (Left according to Mountain Project) are two bolt hangers.

I got my stuff together:

and clipped a figure-eight on a bight to the hangers using three quickdraws set to overlap gate directions, one longer as a fall-back.

Walked around to the East and down to the bottom:

Looking up the rope - rope on right is the extra from when I dropped a loop of 60M rope and just tied it off at the top to make it easier to pull up:

Cruxy section is just above the shaded blocks halfway between the ropes - left hand small crimp and right in small toe-pocket.

Tied in about where the tangle is - normal Top Rope Solo technique, and starting to climb:

Topping out - about 20 minutes with a few minutes of FEAR to deal with at the cruxy section stepping out of the crack and onto the face with a left crimper about 3/8" and a right toe pocket about 1/2":

All in all a great time, beautiful weather and a nice hike. After calling in alive to Angie I packed my stuff and took the low trail hiking back through the Traverse Wall area.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Aspen Grove Hike

Today we went on a short simple hike with Tiffany and Tyler. We met at Sundance and carpooled to the Aspen Grove Trailhead (we have an annual pass, which is a good thing, since while we were up a ranger came through and ticketed all the cars in the lot without one).

We set a smooth rather leisurely pace up to the first water fall. Tyler climbed up the fall on the right. There was some really cool moss along the water, and some ice in the shadows.

Angie rests looking up where Tyler was climbing at a step in the falls where there is a deep clear pool. Note the deep green moss there. Some of the water trickling through the moss was so clear and still it looked like icicles.

Afterward, I watched Tan and DW took the boys out for icecream at Thanksgiving Point.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Freaking Flower Test

I am an

What Flower
Are You?

"You are a health conscious person, both your health and the health of others. You know all about the health benefits and dangers of the world around you."

Enough said.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Catching up on the Phone Pics

Was cleaning out the Treo and ran into these pics:

Poor Tan - the boys were enjoying their new toy.

"I see empty bottles..."

30 seconds later they were laying buried in everything from the shelf behind them with blood spraying everywhere.

Brennan obviously enjoys camping out.

Dallin riding a demo vehicle. Notice the "rocket fuel" in his pocket.

If she ever asks for one of these, I'll have to dig this pic out to explain my answer.

Colorado Weekend Pics

Angie posted some about the weekend and I don't have much to add except the following pics:

Morning haze and sunshine from the plane:

The Diamond of Longs Peak, in RMNP:

Look into those eyes, you know what he wants:

Next set is from Lake Keystone:

We having fun yet?

It's around here somewhere

There it is - DUCKS!

Brennan spit-bombs them

Yes, now that's what I'm talking about

Pics above taken with a Canon Rebel XTI using Canon lenses:
· 70-210 mm zoom
· 50 mm prime
· 28 mm prime

Friday, November 2, 2007

Rope Solo - The Red Rock, Draper, UT

Gum Cheese 5.6 at The Red Rock in Draper Utah. This is a neat little climbing area in Draper, supposedly maintained by a Dentist, hence the odd route names.

I drove up after work today to scope it out, walked up the landscaping timber "stairs" and checked it out. Decided to try "Gum Cheese" a simple 5.6 about 35-40' give or take (had a 90' rope folded in half with about 10' left on each end).

That's the top of the route, my rope folded in half and knotted in a figure-eight and hooked on two quickdraws. My finger is actually there on purpose - the sun was shining straight onto the lens and the poor camera couldn't even see the rope, so I shaded it.

At the bottom I had to free the rope (stuck on a little crack/horn) and clipped in my Edelrid Eddy. (seen below at a ledge about 10' from the top). Lest I be found guilty of inspiring anyone into trying this at home (don't) I won't go into any other details about how I set this up. If it's not obvious you shouldn't be doing this.

The start is supposed to be the 5.6 crux, but I found it to be about V0---. The crux for me was a little bit of exposure just above the ledge about 2/3 of the way up. View below is looking up from that ledge. Above is looking below at a slightly overhanging crack that has to be passed to get to the ledge (and that loves to eat rope).

From the ledge there are two ways to go - you can go to the climber's left (my right shoulder in the pic below) into a little notch that has a few other moderate routes (behind me below are the anchors for routes on the other side of the notch, including a 5.11), or straight up to the anchors I used, or slightly right to another set of anchors.

I decided to go slightly left and angle back into the anchors I used to take advantage of an offwidth crack (need to learn that skill). I topped out about 15 minutes after starting (woohoo! I can do a 40' route in about 1/5 that at the Gym)

Looking down on Draper from the top of The Red Rock after my first Rope Solo effort using a self-belayed top-rope.

Called Angie to brag (she's in CO at the Keystone Condo), then ran to IKEA to grab some stuff to stick in the suitcase, including a highchair for the rat, and some gifts for all (surprise surprise).